A very dark and painful prologue lead into Tempting the story of Simon Belleville, respected head of Her Majestyís Morality and Vice Commission, and Christine Treymayne, Eliza to his Mr. Higgins.
Simon is campaigning to win a seat in Parliament. What he doesnít need is a sense of responsibility and growing attraction towards a young woman he rescued from one of the brothels he raided and closed. To thwart any rumors and damage to his reputation he passes Christine off as his cousin and enrolls her at a finishing school. When she receives an indecent proposal shortly thereafter, Simon takes her with him to the country where he sets out to tutor her himself. As you can see it is a very promising premise. With elements of My Fair Lady and Gigi, itís no wonder that I was eager to read on.
Christine dredges up memories of a past Simon had hoped to have forgotten and left behind, and his compassion for her situation stems from his own experiences growing up poor in Londonís East End. I found him and her a lovely change to the usual protagonists of historical novels. They are characters not of good blood and old money. I thought. Shame then to find out half way through the story that once more an author wasnít brave enough to trust in her characters and to see the hero elevated to the peerage. Oh well.
At least the heroine, Christine, tries to stay true to herself. Although it did take her quite a long time to speak up and demand respect. So for most of the story she doesnít come across as a very strong and independent heroine. A loving one, yes! But a meek one, too! That might be one of the reasons why I found the romance lacking. Yes, I did enjoy the growing respect and admiration and them becoming friends and falling in love. But where was the passion, the out-of-control desire? It took nearly all of three-quarters of the book to get to the first kiss. And then it didnít convince. Sure the sexual awareness is there right from the beginning, but it is never allowed to be more than a simmer.
So with a great beginning, a slow paced, too long and too boring middle, Tempting then turns into an exciting read with the last quarter of the book. Thatís not enough for me. Especially as it all ends with a lengthy epilogue, which was so not needed. However, that might just be my own personal peeve.
Not overly exciting, but with one of my favorite themes, Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, it was a book that needed to be read. And while it lasted, I enjoyed Tempting well enough. I just wonít return to it. Then again, that doesnít mean that others wonít like it better.